Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Benchleyite Jerry Zezima Publishes Book

Robert Benchley Society member Jerry Zezima writes to say that his first book, "Leave It to Boomer," has just been published. It's a collection of the humor columns written for a hometown paper, The Stamford Advocate in Connecticut. The column is syndicated by McClatchy-Tribune and has run in newspapers across the country and around the world.

Here is the direct Amazon link to my book: http://www.amazon.com/Leave-Boomer-Parenthood-Modern-Middle-Age/dp/1440194319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264019887&sr=8-1

Or see Jerry's blog: http://www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com.

GroupSC 2009 An Intimate View of Southern California

Santa Monica – GROUPSC 2009, a consortium of fifty regional documentary artist-photographers, directed by Robert Benchley Society member Helen K. Garber, will showcase An Intimate View of Southern California at MOPLA’s opening reception at Bergamot Station as a featured installation. The exhibit will then travel to a downtown site, hosted by L.A. Center for Digital Art for the April 8 Downtown Art Walk. This is the third in a series of site-specific pop-up digital installations designed in collaboration with award –winning architectural design firm MINARC/Gallery SKART who will host an exhibition of GroupSC 2009 Artist Works on Paper at their Bergamot adjacent Gallery SKART through May.

Each of GROUPSC’s photographers has embedded their signature style into the documentation of the region’s unique neighborhoods where they reside, work or play, resulting in a gestalt of fifty, up-to-the-minute perspectives tinged with current affairs. Central to this year’s theme is a defunct trailer rescued and reclaimed by Project Director Garber, who, with the expert repair skills of Banning Discount RV of Beaumont, CA and Digital Director Chris Quilisch; Artist/Designer Duce; and the Minarc team, has recycled salvage parts from within the trailer and trailer yard, transforming it from a decaying piece of trash, into a mobile digital projection vehicle for GROUPSC2009’s forthcoming photo tours.

Garber is committed to “uniting the energy field” of LA and environs’ creative community by engaging local artists who are struggling to survive in tandem with the community-at-large. According to Nancy Louise Jones, Project Editor, Garber has brought talent together for a different type of showcase; one that makes a significant statement about our society, and about how we communicate with each other, to surmount the challenges in our personal careers as photo professionals. Jones: “What many people will never see is that Helen has managed through sheer persistence, love of life, love of art, caring for her peers and impeccable timing to coordinate an amazing group of professional and amateur photographers who would normally be disengaged from each other. She is making a statement with the power and strength of creative numbers.”

By taking the show on the road, Garber believes that geographically isolated neighborhoods and insular ethnic enclaves will be exposed to the breadth of our humanity with all of its beauty, variety and recessionary pain depicted.

Grown from last year’s GroupLA 2008, the expanded circumscribed territory is bounded by Santa Ynez/Northwest, San Diego/Southwest, Anza Borrego/Southeast, and Apple Valley/Northeast. Jones opines that “there is a trend in photography now to romanticize the landscape,” but “we live in a large city where there is a lot of loneliness and this year there is an abundance of shots void of humans, but you can still feel presence.” In portraying that loneliness, the images also convey “a sense of trying to connect to survive; when we’re looking through the trash for clothing or food, this project makes the statement, ‘you are not alone’.”

In the process of reviewing what has become a contemporary image archive, Jones has reveled in the artistic rendering that illuminates Redlands’ old Americana; sugarcoats the aftermath of the Santa Barbara fires; and turns an Eastside mired in ugly poverty into surreal beauty, in spite of “an undercurrent of people…out of touch with themselves because they are just trying to find food for their next meal…and boredom, sheer boredom…people walking through life with no more curiosity…” But the curiosity of the artists includes witnessing life through a hotel peephole; trying to comprehend a pathology that banishes sofas to street corners; and questioning why what was at one time dubbed trailer trash has become the new middle-class, living from parking space to parking space. All the while, Eagle Rock churches provide free sermons to us on surviving the economy vis-à-vis signage on their facades and front lawns.

In editing the show’ s narrative into digestible viewing nuggets, Jones selections include pictures that reveal last year’s ongoing desolation along the rural and urban landscape: amid the eclectic blend of wealth and poverty from Santa Monica to Marina del Rey; the desert’s hot, dried-out establishments under brilliant blue skies animated by Joshua Tree’s military outpost populated with “short stud-cuts,” Oxnard day-laborers, the underworld of South-central, foragers for food around the Midnight Mission, and the grit of alleyways in Boyle Heights.

But hope is not lost, evidenced by renewable desert and sea flora and fauna, life goes on for Isla Vista hippies, multi-tasking Burbank-to-Brentwood freeway commuters, the manicured lawns in suburbs of Lakewood, the Laguna Woods retirement community, and the mid-century architecture of Palm Springs. The celebratory mood moves from the daily zaniness that transits on and off Santa Monica’s pier and crowded beaches, toward gorgeous neon and gay life in West Hollywood, to the perennial Chinatown parade, and further east to Idyllwild’s crafty woods.

According to Rex Bruce, Director of LACDA, "This is an exhibit that has been needing to happen and is finally being realized. To put cogent documentation of the L.A. 'City State' on wheels and readied to make the great American road trip makes sense for a place that has more cars than people. Each area is represented by photographer artists that really know the experience there, so the flavor of the differing regions are captured in their stories told in an unusual and compelling manner for those who view the installation."

Garber likens the mobile concept to a travelogue that travels. “People used to go on adventures and bring back the photos… We are reversing the experience…taking the photos on the adventure…taking our home on the journey.”

Plans Being Made for Next Benchley Humor Contest

The Officers and Directors of the Robert Benchley Society recently conferred, by telephone, on plans for the Seventh Anniversary Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering and Humor Award Ceremony, set for July 16-19, 2010, in Boston, Mass. At the same time planning was begun for this years Robert Benchley Society Humor Competition. Watch this blog for details and deadlines. In general, it was agreed, to keep the rules of last year's competition more-or-less unchanged; they can be reviewed on the Robert Benchley Society website www.robertbenchley.org.

Monday, March 29, 2010

L.A. Writer Recreates the Round Table in New Book


contact: Mr. Kim Goldsworthy (Rosemead, CA)
tele: (626) 280-5644
e-mail: gebegb@earthlink.net


Mr. Kim Goldsworthy of the Los Angeles area has re-created an afternoon luncheon dialogue of the Algonquin Round Table, featuring Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, among half a dozen others, in that famous "Vicious Circle" which met in the Algonquin Hotel in New York City throughout the decade of the 1920s.

Mr. Goldsworthy wishes for members of the RBS as well as members of the Dorothy Parker Society to contact him via e-mail. Object: to ascertain the interest level of people interested in "hearing" what those now-famous people were chatting about in a typical lunch hour circa 1921, with insults and suggestive humor punctuating their literary allusions, their puns, and their respect for each other, and their disrespect for the rest of the world outside of their circle.

If interest is sufficient, then the book may be self-published via one of the major on-line e-publishing companies. If interest is light, then chapters may be shared among the readers who have shown an interest by contacting the author.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Robert Benchley Society member Helen Garber announces Night Lights: Venice/Venezia March 15 - May 1, 2010 at the DNJ Gallery, Los Angeles

As Funny as a Stick in the Eye

Thanks to Robert Benchley Society Vice-Chairman Christopher Morgan for passing this on--

"The word humor comes from humorem, the Latin word for fluid, and originally had as much to do with funny as the aqueous and vitreous humors of the eye. Nothing funny there at all, except the Canal of Schlemm which, as you can see by looking at the diagram, I’m not making up."

Read more at http://ow.ly/1ejgn

The dear dead table d'hote days

Q. Do you know where and when Robert Benchley's essay "The dear dead table d'hote days" was published? Do you think that it may have been inspired by the annual game dinners at the Grand Pacific Hotel each year (I know that they held a game dinner in 1885; I believe I even once saw a copy of that menu posted on the internet)?

A. The essay appears in the book Chips off the Old Benchley (1949), beginning on page 329. According to Gordon E. Ernst, Jr,. in Robert Benchley: An Annotated Bibliography, it was first published in Liberty magazine #7, (April 19, 1930) beginning on page 26. Looking at the essay, Benchley says he's reading an 1885 menu from a Chicago hotel.

Coming in July from W. Bruce Cameron

A DOG'S PURPOSE -- Available everywhere July 6, 2010

What if your dog never dies? What if dogs live multiple lifetimes, and remember all of them?

What if every animal has a purpose, and your pet’s purpose is intimately bound to yours?

A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of a dog who finds himself reincarnated and decides there must be a reason, a purpose he must fulfill, and until he does so, he’ll continue to be reborn. The story is narrated by Bailey, a wise and funny dog who is very much...a dog

A Dog’s Purpose is funny, endearing, touching, uplifting, and as full of life as dogs themselves.

Author W. Bruce Cameron is the 2006 winner of the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor.

For more information see http://adogspurpose.com/

Coming Soon! The Athletic Benchley

Coming Soon from Glendower Media.

Robert Benchley, America’s greatest humorist, was famous for being one of the members of the Algonquin Round Table and for writing hysterical pieces for Vanity Fair, Life, and many other publications. He was the Drama Critic for Life for years and his reviews of plays were required reading for the New York theater public. He went on to make many movies with a list of Hollywood stars that no one else could claim and was known for his books of short hilarious articles.

What most people do not realize is that Benchley, and the most famous and talented writers in the country, also wrote for The Detroit Athletic Club News, the monthly house organ for members of that legendary auto and advertising club.
For the first time Benchley’s articles written for the DAC News will be published in The Athletic Benchley, 105 Exercises from the Detroit Athletic Club News.

These articles, in their original presentation and with the original artwork, are sure to recruit new fans for the Master of Nonsense. Famous pieces in their original form are here along with articles that have never before been seen outside the membership of the DAC., such as:

  • Carnival Time in Sunny Las Los
  • Kiddie Car Travel
  • What to Do When the Family Is Away
  • The Church Supper
  • And the ever popular Uncle Edith stories

The Athletic Benchley is expected to be available for the first time during May, 2010

Edited by Thomas Saunders, chairman of the "A Moderate State of Preservation" Ann Arbor, Mich. chapter of the Robert Benchley Society.

For more information see http://glendowermedia.com/blog/

Lub Dub, a novel by, Ed Tasca

A comic novel about a heart donor delivery that goes disastrously awry, when the driver of the delivery van spots his girlfriend, a brilliant university student in the arms of another. Unable to resist he follows her in the van through a succession of comic episodes and hurdles until he loses the heart completely and finds the mission, his love relationship and his sanity totally in jeopardy. A grudging cardiologist who accompanies him is the enraged, consummate professional who needles and prods him throughout for his foolishness. All ends well, saved at the last by the intervention of, ironically, the driver's brilliant girlfriend.

For more information see http://www.lexingtonfilm.com/tascalubdub.htm

Another Benchleyite with a Book You'll Love

Laugh your heart out as author Rose A. Valenta paints a satirical picture of the world today. Sitting on Cold Porcelain will entertain you with an amusing, perceptive, and laugh-out-loud take on the state of our country and our world, on celebrities and politicians, and all the news events that make us roll our eyes and groan.

Its satirical essays include "Giuliani's Gaffe Could Qualify for Political Darwin Award," "Rush Limbaugh: The Don Rickles of Radio," and "The Mona Lisa Had High Cholesterol?"

You will also find Rose’s hysterical consultations with her best friend, Mrs. Giordano, a South Philadelphia malocchio (evil eye) doctor. Mrs. Giordano bloviates in Italian and is the Italian equivalent to the ‘Numa Numa Guy’ in front of the TV when watching The O’Reilly Factor.

Witty and honest, Sitting on Cold Porcelain is an unapologetic yet unmistakably intellectual read that will challenge your ideas and stir your beliefs.

For more information see http://www.sittingoncoldporcelain.com/

RBS's Digby Authors Book on Mark Twain

Mark Twain's Geographical Imagination, co-authored by Horace J. Digby, 2005 winner of the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor. Mark Twain once wrote:
"The human imagination is much more capable than it gets credit for. This is why Niagara is always a disappointment when one sees it for the first time. One's imagination has long ago built a Niagara to which this one is a poor dribbling thing. The ocean "with its waves running mountain high" is always a disappointment at first sight; the imagination has constructed real mountains, whereas these with swelling at their very biggest and highest are not imposing. The Taj is a disappointment though people are ashamed to confess it. God will be a disappointment to most of us, at first. I wish I could see the Niagaras and Tajs which the human imagination has constructed, why then, bless you, I should see Atlantics pouring down out of the sky over cloud ranges, and I should see Tajs of a form so gracious and a spiritual expression so divine and altogether so sublime and so lovely and worshipful that—well—St. Peter's, Vesuvius, Heaven, Hell, everything that is much described is bound to be a disappointment at first."

For more information see http://www.lexingtonfilm.com/marktwain.htm

Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering Set for July 16-18 in Boston

The Robert Benchley Society announces plans for the Seventh Anniversary Annual Gathering, Friday through Sunday, July 16-18, 2010, in Boston, Massachusetts.

2009/2010 RBS Award for Humor Winner, Ed Tasca
The highlight of the event will be the Annual Award Dinner and Ceremony, Saturday, July 17th. This year's first place winner is Ed Tasca, of Toronto, Ontario and an undisclosed location believed by the authorities to be in Mexico, for his entry Let’s Click Up the Old Gang Sometime. Of Ed's essay, final competition judge Kevin C. Fitzpatrick says "It is an original and lively writing on a new topic, social networks.”

Kevin has been a past judge of the competition. He is the president of the RBS Fascinating Crimes RBS chapter in New York. In 1999 he founded the Dorothy Parker Society and serves as president. He is the author of "A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York" and with Nat Benchley, is the co-editor of the new book "The Lost Algonquin Round Table" (Donald Books-iUniverse). Link for the book: http://www.donaldbooks.com/catalogue.html

Other winners in this competition are:

Kevin Fitzpatrick
The preliminary judges of the competition were author of Robert Benchley An Annotated Bibliography, Gordon E. Ernst; writer and RBS Director, Eileen Forster Keck; puzzle designer RBS Vice Chairman, Chris Morgan; 2007 RBS Humor Award winner, Daniel Montville; radio personality and chairman of A Moderate State of Preservation Chapter (Ann Arbor, Mich.) of RBS, Tom Saunders; RBS Director Pamela Siska and Robert Benchley Society Chairman David Trumbull.

Preliminary plans for this year's gathering were set during a recent tele-conference among Horace Digby (2005 RBS Humor Award Winner), Kevin Fitzpatrick, Wiliam Goldsmith (Chairman of the "Uncle Edith Chapter" RBS Chapter in Los Angeles), Chris Morgan, Tom Saunders, David Trumbull, and Mary DiZazzo Trumbull

Monday, March 22, 2010

Save the Date - July 16-18 -- Benchley Soc. Annual Gathering

Save the date and watch for details. The Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering and Humor Award Competition Dinner have been set for July 16-18, 2010, in Boston, Mass.

Robert Benchley Society

For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website